Natasha Soobramanien was born in London. She was brought up there, but also lived for a time in both Hong Kong and Hastings. She currently lives in London.
She studied English at the University of Hull and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia—staying on after her MA to do a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing, for which she submitted an early draft of Genie and Paul, a retelling (or ‘cannibalistic translation’) of the French 18th century classic Paul et Virginie by Bernardin de Saint Pierre.
While at UEA Natasha met fellow writer Luke Williams, to whose debut novel The Echo Chamber she contributed two chapters. Natasha’s contribution was well-received - the Guardian described it as ‘quirky, aggressive, funny, demotic… a rollicking read’ while the New York Times praised its ‘ebullience and erotic fizz’, with the Sunday Times calling both Natasha and Luke ‘talented writers to watch’. The novel went on to win the 2011 Saltire Award for Best First Book. Natasha is now collaborating with Luke on a novel, Diego Garcia, which tells the history of the island of Diego Garcia in the Chagos Archipelago, from its origins in myth to its present status as British colony, US military base and appropriated homeland of the Chagossian Islanders. This project continues Natasha’s exploration into themes she examines in Genie and Paul.
I see now that a writing retreat is productive only if removing yourself from a life so full of distraction that you need the isolation in order to focus on your work. But if you are the kind of writer who doesn't do much of a day to merit this or any other job title, two weeks on a remote Scottish island will not help you chip away at your writer's block. And if you share that retreat and the remote Scottish isolation with your best and most annoying friend, also a writer and also suffering from writer's block, writing is probably the last thing either of you will do.
Read Natasha's 'Five-minute memoir', as published in the Independent magazine.
My first encounter with Paul et Virginie was as an object - my mother's old edition in French with beautiful engravings. I loved to look at it as a kid and would make up stories around the illustrations - some of these images have been reproduced in Genie and Paul. My mother told me the story of Paul et Virginie, but it wasn't until I could read enough French that I came to know Bernardin de Saint-Pierre's text.
Read Natasha's exclusive interview with London bookseller Foyles, in full here.
Scottish Book Trust podcast
Listen to Natasha being interviewed at Edinburgh International Book Fair in a special edition of the Scottish Book Trust's Book Talk programme. She speaks at 21 minutes into the podcast, following Kate Summerscale and Nick Harkaway.
If Not, Not
'This story may or may not end in Venice and in silent, unacknowledged tragedy but let it begin here, in London, where RubyTuesday and CallMeIshmael first meet in person, having arranged to do so under the tapestry which hangs in the lobby of The British Library...'
Natasha has contributed a short story to the prestigious quarterly art journal The White Review. 'If Not, Not' is about two internet daters, and can be found in the fiction section of The White Review online.